In raids the police allegedly found illegally copied software, music and film, including Microsoft software, the latest Robbie Williams album and current films such as Die Another Day.
The Business Software Alliance said 10,300 customers and associates are also being investigated across Europe.
‘This is a very good result,’ said Nico Galtieri, anti-piracy consultant for BSA in Italy.
‘This showed how a combined operation can work when everyone co-operates. They had CD recorders going six hours a day for 200 days of the year, it was a major piracy ring in operation.’
The group have been charged with illegally copying products and then selling them using web sites and mailing lists.
The BSA has estimated the group’s annual turnover of ? ¬100m. Under Italian law the gang could be liable for twice the market value of the material they stole, if found guilty.
During the investigation, dubbed Operation Mouse, 12 websites and 28 email accounts were monitored and intercepted by the Green Berets unit of Milan’s Rapid Reaction Force (Compagnia di Pronto Impiego), a division of the Italian financial police.
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